Onboarding is getting alot of attention in HR these days. Much of this attention has to do with Onboarding software, and the importance of creating efficiency to get the employee productive as soon as possible. And while those topics are important, they do not tell the whole story. This post will show you ways to take advantage of onboarding processes, and onboarding software, in ways you may never have thought of.

Onboarding can do a great deal to increase employee engagement, improve the company-employee connection, and ensure productivity comes sooner rather than later.

But unfortunately, I don’t see most organizations using or thinking about onboarding in the proper context. Or at least not as completely as they could be. Most organizations think of onboarding soley as their New Hire Checklist, or perhaps they will go as far as to include a nice New Employee Orientation. And these things are certainly important to our jobs in HR, but they aren’t the full story. This transactional viewpoint is limiting, for both us in HR as well as the New Hire.

Onboarding is our only chance to make a good first impression, and our first chance to create a connection with the employee that will increase engagement and retention. If we simply look at our onboarding process as the way we gather all the required documents, record the benefits being elected, and getting someone a desk and a computer, we are certainly missing a huge opportunity.

We certainly should automate and streamline our ability to capture the needed data and forms. We should absolutely increase communications and scheduling of events. And of course, should definitely take the opportunity to ensure we get the employee set up to be productive as soon as possible.

These things are a given. And they are important as well. I’m just suggesting that we should take this a step further….

Here are just a few ideas to improve the effectiveness of your onboarding process, whether you use onboarding software or you use a New Hire Checklist or you if you have a New Employee Orientation or not. These ideas should get you started thinking about how you may change things in your organization. Remember, your job in HR should be one of Organizational Leadership… Leading the organization in culture creation, employee connection and engagement. Don’t just sit back and be relegated to the boring world of transactions and forms.

Remember, this list is meant to go beyond the standard HR Form collection, HR Policy Signatures, etc. I assume you know how to do all  that just fine.  Not all of these will be relevant, and some will not even be a good idea in certain organizations… but I’m just trying to get your HR brain thinking a little differently. :)

  • Send a Welcome Letter (or email), but in addition to show up here and then, etc, really show excitement and be welcoming. Talk to them more like a friend and throw away the “you should feel privileged we chose you and honored to work here” tone.
  • Place a welcome basket on their desk (think treats, or flowers, etc)
  • Meet them at the door.  Or at least be ready to greet them as soon as they arrive… don’t make them wait!
  • Buy, and present to them, a Success Package (include books or audio programs, etc that may help them. Such as Sales Training, Leadership, Creativity, etc) to show them you want them to succeed and are willing to help them do so.
  • Plan the whole first day, and give them the agenda (in writing).
  • Assign a Mentor.  And don’t forget to choose the mentor wisely, train them on culture, and make sure they understand the importance of this assignment.
  • Assign someone to take them to lunch on the first day.
  • Ensure a clean work space is ready when they arrive.
  • Have their computer, phone, voicemail, etc. all set up and ready to go.   Don’t make them twittle their thumbs for three days, feeling ignored and unimportant.
  • Schedule follow up meeting(s) with HR to check in on how they are adjusting
  • Record a welcome message from the CEO/President/Leader (video would be best… or LIVE if you could, of course).  Coach this Leader to stress excitement and culture.
  • Schedule a tour.  No one wants to have to pee badly and then have to impose on someone else to ask them where to go.
  • Encourage them to decorate their space…  Let them choose items from a catalog and buy them, on the company’s dime!  If they move in, make it seem like home, and get to put their own personal touch on it… their likely to feel more comfortable, more engaged, and less likely like they may have made a mistake taking this job.
  • Assign them to a committee.    If your HR department isn’t already in the habit of forming task forces / committees to tackle the issues of the organization… start it now.  And getting the New Hire involved in the company can serve two purposes:  1. increase involvement/engagement right from the start, and 2. bring fresh ideas and solutions to the table for the committee.
  • Schedule a Happy Hour for after work.
  • Ensure they have office supplies to start the day (stapler, inbox, post-its, etc)
  • Buy them a nice pen, with their name on it.
  • Give them Personalized Stationary.
  • Schedule a series of meetings/presentations  with different departments so they can learn more about how their job fits into the big picture.
  • Record their Birthday and send them a card.
  • … Let me know your thoughts here…  please reply with your ideas, or things you have seen work!
Well, if that list doesn’t have something you aren’t doing or haven’t thought of, I would be surprised… and I want to know where you work!  Your HR Department must be really with it :)
Of course, just to emphasize my point a little further about the usefulness of onboarding software and processes…. You can schedule almost all of these events above and incorporate them into your automated onboarding processes just the way you do on your I-9’s and Benefits and Other HR Forms.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Make it a great day!

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